Richie has interviewed some of the biggest figures in music, film, television, and radio, including Jeff Goldblum, Brian Wilson, Emma Stone, Ira Glass, the 1975, The Flaming Lips, Sigur Rós, Conan O'Brien, Neko Case, Anderson Cooper, Sharon Jones, "Weird Al" Yankovic, and many others. Richie also occasionally writes outdoor columns about hiking.
Selected Interviews & Features
Interview: Brian Wilson and Al Jardine, by Richie DeMaria
Few bands are as legendary as The Beach Boys, and few song catalogues more well-known. When original members Brian Wilson and Al Jardine come to The Arlington with openers The Zombies, they will delve into a pair of lesser-known albums, Friends and Surf’s Up, along with the hits. It will be a special evening of some of the best psychedelic pop ever recorded. I spoke with Wilson and Jardine about the tour, the Zombies, and revisiting old songs.
How are you today? Good.
How has the tour been going so far? So far, so good.
What inspired this Something Great From ‘68 Tour? I wanted The Zombies to tour with me.
Were you a fan of the band and their album Odesee and Oracle in its time? Yes, and yes I was. I like their harmonies.
Would you say The Beach Boys and The Zombies inspired one another as musicians? I think so, yes.
What songs have you had the most fun revisiting? I like the Surf’s Up and the Friends album.
Have you been rearranging any of the songs, or keeping true to the studio version? The studio versions.
What are listening to these days? Are there any contemporary artists you enjoy? Not really. I don’t listen to current music. I only listen to oldies-but-goodies.
Do you have any favorite artists from back then? I don’t have any favorites.
What brings you joy these days? Watching television kind of brings me joy.
Any specific shows? The news.
How do you feel about playing in Santa Barbara? I’ve been many times. Mike Love, my cousin Mike, had a ranch in Santa Barbara.
Have you been working on any new material lately? No, I haven’t.
Has your relationship to the ‘68 era songs changed at all over the decades? No, not really, no.
How are things with Al Jardine? You two have played for so long together! He’s still a great singer, a great singer.
Any venus or cities you’re especially looking forward to for this tour? No, I like all of them.
How do you relax these days, or what brings you a sense of calm? Uh, not really anything.
Anything you’d like to say to the fans of S.B.?: I just hope they like the concert.
So Santa Barbara, huh?
Yeah, I’m lucky to be from here. Are you looking forward to coming back?: Yeah, Mike Love used to have a house there on the beach — what was the name of that street, overlooking the ocean? He had a beautiful spot, and that was the nearest faraway place for us. We’d come from LA, and recorded a couple of songs in post-70s era. They weren’t very, you know — they’re movie soundtracks, really, is what they were. It was the soundtrack for a movie called Americathon. Kind of esoteric stuff, nothing to scream about. Nice memories, a little studio in S.B.
How were the Friends and Surfs Up days, and do those sessions have any personal significance for you?: Oh, it was great. We’re relearning our past, our more recent past. We’ve been doing hits for years, and this is a whole different period of time, and it’s kind of encapsulates the late ‘60s into the early ‘70s. Friends and Surf’s Up in the same show, it’s kind of cool. “Something Great From ‘68.” There were kind of a couple of really cool songs, and we were just being friends and writing songs together and experiencing that more optimistic time of writing new music. It was a lot of fun.
Are there any songs from that time in particular that stand out to you?: “Be Here In The Morning.” Just a crazy little song, just silly, kind of a banter, kind of fun, nothing serious, just fun. We were having fun together, writing songs together, singing again, in the studio in Brian’s studio. Now Brian built a studio in his home, so we kind of congregated there at his place, as opposed to the big studios. We had a lot of fun writing and writing together as friends, and Friends is the title song of the album. It’s really very fun stuff. Surf’s Up is a little deeper. It gets quite heavy. You can tell the difference in tone.
Was revisiting Surf’s Up difficult at all?": In what way?
I imagine the emotional source material for some of the songs was difficult, like for Brian...: I asked him that same question. He didn’t seem to mind. He handles “Surf’s Up,” he’s singing “Til I Die.” There’s a lot of emotional baggage there, and you know, yeah, you’d think it would be a little bit more difficult, but he’s handling it beautifully.
Have you gained any new perspectives on the songs?: Yeah. I have a little different perspective on the music, like this song called “Looking at Tomorrow.” It’s a very optimistic kind of tune, and we’ve rearranged it a little bit to reflect a little more R&B approach. It’s really fun. And so Blondie Chaplin sings a couple of songs from Surf’s Up, “Long Promised Road” and “Feel Flows,” nice little songs written by Carl Wilson. There’s a little Brian, a little bit of Al.
What has kept you and Brian together creatively or collaboratively over the years?: Well, the music. Any anniversary style approach to the music makes you dig a little deeper. You definitely have to keep sharp, and that keeps us together, keeps us sharp. As long as the band is sharp, Brian and I are sharp. They do the homework, the digging, and all we really have to do is sing, sing our best. We still have our voices, which is nice. My son Matt Jardine has these amazing falsetto parts Brian used to sing. He compliments our vocals on stage quite nicely, very nicely, so I’m very happy for him. I have a show called the Postcard From California Trio that I do when I’m not with Brian, and we do a lot of these same songs only in a much more simplified way. I basically start from the first song we ever recorded, take people through the different eras, and Matt compliments that beautifully. In fact, I was going to play Santa Barbara, but Brian booked his show first. I’m coming back for you guys, Santa Barbara…
If you look back at the beginning, did you expect to have this impact and legacy?: No, not a chance. We were just having fun, having fun around the piano. Dennis came up with a great idea to write a song about surfing, and that’s how it started. Just a very innocent kind of folk song, really, a folk song, a little mini folk song. It’s the tradition I came from, and I consider those early songs like folk songs. They are real things that happened in our lives: surfing, cars, girls, the whole deal. Then it got a little more serious with Surf’s Up, and Pet Sounds, and Smile. We do all that in the show. We capture that. We open with some hits, then we start reflecting, then we go back to the hits.
Anything you’d like to say to the fans in Santa Barbara?: Stay safe, enjoy your life, enjoy your blessed lives to be living in a place like that, and you know, we call it the nearest faraway place, it’s kind of neat.
** Transgender Life in Santa Barbara - December 15, 2016, Santa Barbara Independent - CNPA 1st Place Award Winner for Non-Profile Feature **
Interview with Oshun’s Niambi and Thandiwe - May 09, 2019, Santa Barbara Independent
Blood Orange’s Dev Hynes Talks Soundscapes and Beauty of Flaws - April 17, 2019, Santa Barbara Independent
Pale Waves Splash Down at S.B. Bowl - April 6, 2019, Santa Barbara Independent
Positively Russ Spencer - April 11, 2019, Santa Barbara Independent
Spring Into April with Weyes Blood - March 29, 2019, Santa Barbara Independent
PJ Morton on Soul Music - November 27, 2018, Santa Barbara Independent
Jazzing It Up with Jeff Goldblum - October 30, 2018, Santa Barbara Independent
Puddles Pity Party Plays Santa Barbara - October 17, 2018, Santa Barbara Independent
Sophie Rose Headlines Girls Rock Benefit - September 25, 2018, Santa Barbara Independent
Laurence Juber’s Guitarist Gold - September 19, 2018, Santa Barbara Independent
Pacific Pride Celebrates LGBTQ Music at Pride Fest - August 23, 2018, Santa Barbara Independent
Interview: Ada Vox - August 22, 2018, Santa Barbara Independent
Karl Denson Expands His Funk-Soul Universe - August 21, 2018, Santa Barbara Independent
OWL Entertainment: S.B. Hip-Hop Takes Flight - July 24, 2018, Santa Barbara Independent
Talkin' Toad the Wet Sprocket with Dean Dinning - July 16 2018, Santa Barbara Independent
Interview: The Wiggles Founder, Anthony Field - May 30, 2018, Santa Barbara Independent
Peter Harper's Cycles of Song and Soul - April 17, 2018, Santa Barbara Independent
Chef's Corner: Sandra Adu Zelli and Brian Dodero - April 11, 2018, Santa Barbara Independent
A Perfect Circle Returns - April 10, 2018, Santa Barbara Independent
Dante Elephante Looks Ahead - March 1, 2018, Santa Barbara Independent
Spoon Drummer Jim Eno Talks New Album - January 17, 2018, Santa Barbara Independent
Blind Boys of Alabama at Campbell Hall - December 13, 2017, Santa Barbara Independent
Derek Trucks Trucks On - November 1, 2017, Santa Barbara Independent
Odesza/Sofi Tukker - October 18, 2017, Santa Barbara Independent
Andrew Bird: Andrew Bird's Sound World - October 10, 2017, Santa Barbara Independent
Ira Glass Interview - Through Ira's Looking Glass - October 5, 2017, Santa Barbara Independent
Wayne Coyne, The Flaming Lips Interview - September 29, 2017, Santa Barbara Independent
Yoga Teaching in Santa Barbara - August 24, 2017, Santa Barbara Independent
Bryan Ferry Interview - August 14, 2017, Santa Barbara Independent
Ishi-Dōrō Light the Path at Lotusland - June 8, 2017, Santa Barbara Independent
Goya Through Jeanne Smith Morgan’s Eyes - June 6, 2017, Santa Barbara Independent
Surf Meets Turf at Star Lane-Dierberg - May 18, 2017, Santa Barbara Independent
Dear Baby Boomers Who Deny Climate Change - April 29, 2017, Santa Barbara Independent
David Sedaris on Finding and Keeping Stories - April 25, 2017, Santa Barbara Independent
Coachella Interview: Sofi Tukker - April 18, 2017, Santa Barbara Independent
Words on One Last Waking Dream, Lucidity 2017 - April 14, 2017, Santa Barbara Independent
Sigur Rós Comes to Town - April 6, 2017, Santa Barbara Independent
Make a Great Escape with The Moth - The Moth, March 30, 2017, Santa Barbara Independent
Arnoldi’s Chef Is Cracking Pi - March 9, 2017, Santa Barbara Independent
Alton Brown Gets Cooking at Arlington Theatre - March 9, 2017, Santa Barbara Independent
Billy Crystal Comes to Santa Barbara - February 16, 2017, Santa Barbara Independent
One Last Tour for David Cassidy - February 16, 2017, Santa Barbara Independent
Kamasi Washington’s Epic Jazz Hits UCSB - February 8, 2017, Santa Barbara Independent
A Chat with Emma Stone - February 2, 2017, Santa Barbara Independent
Looking on the Bright Side with Luis Muñoz - January 5, 2017, Santa Barbara Independent
Nobody Does it Like Nicky D - November 15, 2016, Santa Barbara Independent
Consciously Creative: Hauschka, The Kin, and Fred Johnson at the Lobero - November 3, 2016, Santa Barbara Independent
Joan Baez: A Singer for All Times - October 27, 2016, Santa Barbara Independent
Jethro Tull: A Rock Opera with a Consciousness - October 13, 2016, Santa Barbara Independent
Wise Words from Weyes Blood - October 5, 2016, Santa Barbara Independent
Matisyahu Breaks the Mold at One Love Experience - September 29, 2016, Santa Barbara Independent
Sheila E.’s Beat Goes On at Chumash Casino Resort - September 8, 2016, Santa Barbara Independent
'Weird Al': Still Weird After All These Years - July 28, 2016, Santa Barbara Independent
Suga Free Talks the Sweet Life - July 28, 2016, Santa Barbara Independent
Interview with a Goo Goo Doll - July 14, 2016, Santa Barbara Independent
A Talk with CCR’s Doug Clifford - July 11, 2016, Santa Barbara Independent
The English Beat’s Dave Wakeling Discusses the Rhythms of Life - June 2, 2016, Santa Barbara Independent
A Farewell to Prince - April 28, 2016, Santa Barbara Independent
A Deep Conversation with Glen Phillips - April 25, 2016, Santa Barbara Independent
The 1975 Play the S.B. Bowl - Matt Healy interview, April 14, 2016, Santa Barbara Independent
Conan O’Brien Chats with Arlington Theatre - April 7, 2016, Santa Barbara Independent
Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen @ Arlington Theatre - March 10, 2016, Santa Barbara Independent
David Crosby Plays Solo at the Granada Theatre - March 17, 2016, Santa Barbara Independent
Anything Goes with Gerry Gibbs - December 24, 2015, Santa Barbara Independent
This Is She: Melissa Etheridge to Play Campbell Hall - November 12, 2015, Santa Barbara Independent
Gregory Blackstock Visits Devereux Center - October 29, 2015, Santa Barbara Independent
Old Is New Again with Dave Rawlings Machine - October 15, 2015, Santa Barbara Independent
Scientist and Dylan Judah Say Hello, World, to UCSB - October 6, 2015, Santa Barbara Independent